Eternal Life and the Immortality of the Soul
As far as any attempt to give an account of the notion of immortality is concerned, the last two chapters have been negative in character. In the first, we considered difficulties involved in construing the immortality of the soul as some kind of existence after death, whether that existence be thought of as the existence of a physical body, a non-material body or a disembodied existence. In the second, we considered difficulties in certain views of the immortality of the soul connected with notions of divine providence. Such views sought to provide a rational basis for moral considerations, a reason why we should be good, but succeeded only in depicting concerns which seemed antithetical to moral considerations. At this point, many would say that it would be appropriate to admit that the notion of the immortality of the soul is the product of a number of mistakes : mistakes about the grammar of concepts such as ‘self’, ‘I’, ‘existence’, ‘death’, ‘personal identity’, etc., and mistakes about the characteristic roles of moral considerations. But these conclusions are mistaken. They are based on the assumption that what we have taken to be presuppositions of belief in the immortality of the soul really are necessary presuppositions of the belief.
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